Instructional Continuity: Preparing to Teach Remotely

CITL offers the following information as ways to try to maintain instructional continuity during the current disruption.

As you adapt your teaching strategies for this disruption, we recommend that you focus on what you want your students to achieve by the end of the semester. It is important to note that during a crisis it may be necessary to implement alternative pedagogies to the original design of your course, but course goals should remain in place.

Note: We provide this information to help instructors react to the current disruption to their regular instruction. These are guidelines for sudden, mid-semester efforts to convert courses for teaching remotely. To be clear, these recommendations do not equate to UMaineOnline standards for developing and delivering top quality online courses.


3.30.20: If a faculty is making back-up arrangements for teaching his/her course, these instructions will provide guidance on adding a second instructor to a Blackboard course (a video version is available under the FAQ section of our Blackboard Tutorial page).

3.27.20: A warning to Zoom users – a new form of trolling is happening called ZoomBombing, in which an outside participant, or disruptive participants, use the features of Zoom to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes.  Check out our Zoom tutorial page for tips and a helpful video link.

3.25.2020: Adobe Creative Cloud Adobe is making access to the Creative Cloud suite available until May 31, 2020 for students and educators, at no cost. The University of Maine System will provide access to download and install the Adobe tools onto personal devices using your credentials. Follow directions here.

3.22.2020: Online Test Proctoring: ITS has integrated and made available via Blackboard the Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitoring Tool for secure testing. CITL will provide documentation, training, and support as soon as possible.

3.20.2020: Fernald Hall is closed to walk-in services.  However, Faculty Support Services are still available via email ( or phone (207.581.3333) – voice messages are frequently checked. You can also arrange meetings via Zoom. For assistance from our Instructional Design team, please fill out our appointment form. We are still providing Workshops virtually; consult our events page for updates.

3.18.2020: The UMaine Writing Center is available to provide online peer tutoring to all members of the UMaine community. (It has offered virtual tutoring since 2016.)

3.17.2020: Small group and drop-in tutoring services through the Tutor Program, as well as tutoring through TRIO Student Support Services, will continue via Zoom for the remainder of the semester. Students will receive emails over spring break with specific instructions on how to continue to access those services when classes resume.

3.14.2020: All of the UMS libraries are open to the full UMS community.  We do not all know our hours yet since we need to check on our student employees.  Some UMS libraries will be requiring the university ID for entrance. The Maine State Library is creating a website that will list closures and hour changes for all public libraries in the state.

3.14.2020: News from two Internet Service Providers: Comcast Internet Essentials: “Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (Source). Charter Spectrum Broadband: “Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households” (Source). Similar offers from ATT, Verizon, T-Mobil, Sprint, and possibly others may be coming as well. (Updated information available here.)


Questions you may ask:

Things you can do to prepare:

  1. Do I have what I need to teach remotely?
  2. Will I have enough bandwidth to teach remotely? Will my students?
  3. How will I share information and stay connected to my students?
  4. What are my options for teaching remotely?
  5. What tools will I need to understand in order to teach remotely?
  6. Will I need to adapt my content for remote delivery?
  7. What else can I do now to prepare?

Course Content & Delivery

  1. To Start
  2. Updating the Syllabus
  3. Web Conferencing
  4. Class Meetings, Group Work, Discussions & Office Hours
  5. Sharing Course Materials, Readings, and Lectures
  6. Assignments, Exams, and Grades
  7. Hands on Work, Lab Assignments
  8. Field Trips, Service Learning
  9. Keeping Your Course Accessible When Teaching Remotely

Additional Questions

  1. What will my students need in order to access my adapted course?
  2. What can I do to help my students during this transition?
  3. What will happen if you are unable to teach your course?

Additional Considerations

Ask: Do I have what I need to teach remotely?

  • Assess your computer’s capabilities if you must teach when you are away from campus
    • Do you and your students have computers that you can use at home?
    • Does that computer have the programs that you need?
    • Do you have a web camera on your computer?
    • Do you have a headset or headphones and a microphone for video conferencing?
    • Don’t have all this equipment: Fogler Library is coordinating and managing Technology Equipment for borrowing. If you need to purchase equipment, here are some recommendations for gear.

Ask: Will I have enough bandwidth to teach remotely? Will my students?

  • Assess the ways in which you and your students will access your courses.
    • Do you have access to high speed internet?
    • Do you have data caps on your mobile plan?
  • If you or your students don’t have broadband access to the internet, consider low bandwidth approaches to teaching and learning.
    • Limit use of live video (e.g. Zoom)
    • Record and share short videos using Kaltura for your students
    • Use Bb’s text based discussion forums
    • Share text files, such as PDFs, via Blackboard. When possible, save PDFs for web delivery
    • Consider that some of your students may access course materials, discussions, and activities via their phones.

Ask: How will I share information and stay connected to my students?

  • Activate your Blackboard course, if you haven’t already. To do so, login through the portal, find the course of interest on the Blackboard home page, and make sure that your course is available to students.
  • If you choose not to use Blackboard, have alternative plans in place for the online delivery of your course content in the event of a disruption. We recommend that you inform the chair of your department or another faculty in the department of those plans in the event that you become incapacitated and someone else may need to step in to keep your course on track (e.g., share your course material via Google Drive with your department chair).

Ask: What are my options for teaching remotely?

  • Likely, a combination of these approaches may work best for you. Options for teaching remotely include:
    • Running your class live with Zoom
    • Using pre-recorded lectures (for example, made in Kaltura)
    • You can register for training on Zoom and Kaltura here.
    • Using well annotated course content, and written communications with your students in place of video.

Ask: What tools will I need to understand in order to teach remotely?

  • Become familiar with the basic tools in Blackboard that you may find useful in the event that you need to distribute course materials online such as adding content, communicating with students through announcements, and setting up a Zoom meeting in your course.
  • Become familiar with the tools that can help with teaching remotely:
    • Zoom: Become familiar with Zoom’s features and tools, including group discussions, using the Zoom whiteboard in discussions, etc.
    • Kaltura: Become familiar with Kaltura’s tools for video capture and video sharing.
    • You can register for training on Zoom and Kaltura here, you can also use the walk-in hours at CITL to answer questions on using Blackboard or other ed tech tools.
  • Utilize the Library’s proxy server for sharing materials licensed by the library; contact your Subject Librarian regarding this, as well as possible online Guides to resources for course assignments.
  • Consider low-bandwidth options and ways of engaging with your students, for example using text-based discussion boards in Blackboard or collaborative document construction in Google Drive.
  • Using tools supported by the University will help you comply with FERPA requirements as well as ensuring that your course materials can be accessible for all students

Ask: Will I need to adapt my content for remote delivery?

  • Yes, in general you will want to think about organization, communication and access in addition to thinking about assessing learning and aligning your outcomes. As much as possible, try to think of what you can accomplish asynchronously, using other tools like Google Drive, Blackboard, and Kaltura as well as what is best communicated with your class in synchronous online meetings with Zoom. Keep in mind, many of your students may be limited to only a phone to access your course, so keeping content mobile-friendly should be a consistent consideration.

Ask: What else can I do now to prepare?

  • Practice alternative delivery methods of course content, discussions, assessments, and feedback.
    • If you’re able to create a module of content in advance of a disruption, deploying these in your course allows for the students to gain familiarity with the tools in case they are needed later in the semester.
  • Develop a plan for make-ups or alternate content if original content delivery becomes impossible (i.e. labs, service learning, field trips, site visits).
    • Explore virtual opportunities or simulations
    • Provide materials that would have been acquired to use in analysis (e.g., data sets, site specifications)

Course Content & Delivery

To Start

  • Make some decisions about how your course will operate in the event of a disruption. These decisions should include:
    • How will you communicate during the disruptions?
    • How will you distribute documents, readings, videos, and other course content?
    • How will you and your students discuss topics?
    • How will the students collaborate and work together?
    • How will you assess the students?
  • For faculty members new to teaching online, Paul LeBlanc’s “Building a Community of Learning” may provide valuable ways of thinking about the task.

Updating the Syllabus

  • Make sure your students have an electronic copy of the syllabus, and that they understand it may be updated in the event of a disruption.
    • An easy way to do this is to post a copy of your syllabus in the Blackboard course.
    • You may want to include an addendum about what students may expect in the event of a disruption of normal class activities.
    • You may also want to include an addendum to your attendance policy, and provide instructions for students in the event that they are no longer able to participate in your course in person.

Web Conferencing

  • This can serve as a substitute for an in-person experience with your students. It’s important to keep in mind that successful web meetings require preparation by you and your students.
  • UMaine recommends using Zoom for web conferencing. Zoom training is available on a regular basis and you can register for training on Zoom here. Guides to share with your students are here.

Class Meetings, Group Work, Discussions & Office Hours

  • There are a number of tools that may be used to hold synchronous or asynchronous conversations with students when you are teaching remotely.
  • Synchronous Conversations:
    • Zoom can be used for class meetings, discussions, group work and office hours. It is important to remember that time zones may become a factor when you are teaching students at a distance. Consider offering several options or polling the class to find times that work for most people.
    • Hangouts or Google Chats provide a way to connect in real time with an individual or with a group. Students who are part of the group but not online at the time of the discussion will be able to read the transcript the next time they log in to their account.
  • Asynchronous Communications:
    • Announcements in Blackboard are an effective way to send information to the entire class at once. By selecting the “Send as an email immediately” when you create your announcement, your message will be sent as an email to all students enrolled in your class.
    • Discussion forums in Blackboard can be used for asynchronous communication between students. Depending on the bandwidth available, students can post a video response to the discussion forum as a way of sharing their perspective.
    • Google Drive documents, spreadsheets, and other items such as slides can be created and shared with a group of students. Tools for commenting, tracking changes, annotating and chatting are available within the documents and may be a good substitute for in person collaborations or group work.
    • Email can be used, of course, for communicating with individuals, groups, or with your entire class.

Sharing Course Materials, Readings, and Lectures

  • Course materials, readings or documents can be uploaded to Blackboard. Using an organizational structure that is connected to the way you have framed information in your syllabus can make finding information easier for your students.
  • We recommend that faculty link through the library whenever possible because of accessibility and copyright considerations.
  • Utilize the Library’s proxy server to ensure that students from off campus have direct access to licensed resources.
  • If you are not using Blackboard, readings or documents can be shared through Google Drive or as attachments to email. Again, link directly through the library.
  • Course lectures can be recorded using a web camera or screen sharing a powerpoint with Kaltura. These videos are easy to share online through Blackboard.
    • This same solution will work for student presentations, and information to share with your students about how to use Kaltura can be found here.
  • If you are using a textbook in your course, the publisher may provide resources for instruction that you have not used in your course. These resources may be worth investigating as you transition to teaching remotely, though it is important to note that some access may require your students to pay a fee.
  • If you aren’t using a textbook in your course, you may want to investigate some of the open source material available in a subject area, and use links to chapters or segments as a temporary source of information

Assignments, Exams, and Grades

  • Depending on your needs, you may need to create a space for students to submit assignments, papers, or projects online.
  • The assessment tool set in Blackboard allows for multiple ways to create places for students to submit work. Faculty can evaluate the work and provide feedback and grades within Blackboard.
  • Google Drive can be used as a depository for student work, and the tools of Google Drive enable commenting and chat features that can be used as feedback or collaboration tools.
  • Student presentations can be recorded using a web camera or screen sharing a powerpoint with Kaltura. These videos are easy to share online through Blackboard.
  • Group presentations can be recorded with Zoom and either submitted to the instructor for review as an assignment in Blackboard or shared via Kaltura.
    • For peer feedback, these presentations can be shared with the rest of the class participants through a Discussion forum on Blackboard.
  • Kaltura videos can be created with embedded quizzes.
  • Exams or quizzes can be delivered through Blackboard.

Hands on Work, Lab Assignments

Field Trips, Service Learning 

  • If field trips or service learning opportunities were part of your original course design, they may no longer be an option. As you consider adapting your course, consider what you wanted the students to get out of the experience. Are there other ways to provide similar or adjacent experiences? Some tools and resources that may be beneficial to explore include:
    • Building Google Earth tours or having students create their own – here is a tutorial on how to make your own virtual field trip.
    • Including documentaries, TED talks, or other pre-recorded material
    • Connecting your class with an expert in the field via Zoom as a guest lecturer


Additional Questions:

Ask: What will my students need in order to access my adapted course?

This all depends on your plans for how you will adapt your course when teaching remotely. Essentially, students will need to understand how you will communicate during the disruption, and they will need access to any tools or technology you expect them to use in your adapted course. Once you have a plan in place, communicate this plan to your students and ask for feedback if any of your plans create a hardship for a student or group of students. Here are some questions you may want to use to assess your students’ remote learning situation.

Student Technology Guides from UMaine IT

Resources for Remote Learning from UMaineOnline

Ask: What can I do to help my students during this transition?

Keep in mind, that your students will be equally disrupted by a shift in pedagogical approach, along with the event that precipitated it. For many students, campus is a source of stability and safety. During this time, you may think about extending or offering additional office hours (virtually via Zoom) for your students to help them alleviate any anxieties or fears they have about expectations in the course or the disruption in general.

Be as transparent as possible with your students. Making your expectations clear, due dates, assignment descriptions, and mode of delivery will all help your students accomplish the learning activities asked of them. If you have not done so already, set norms for when and how you want to communicate, but also when they can expect to hear back from you.

In addition, think about ways you might provide flexibility in your assessments, providing options for students rather than strict requirements that depend on technology (e.g., allow them to submit a paper or a video assignment). Many of our students may face challenges with both technological requirements (doing all their work on cell phones) and bandwidth access. As much as you can anticipate this and build in flexibility it may help your students through the transition as well.

Ask: What will happen if you are unable to teach your course?

  • Everyone needs a backup plan. Your intentions for this plan should be discussed with your department.
  • Consider the tools, services, and platforms you select so that you have support and backup.

Additional Considerations

If you have questions about how to make contingency plans for your course, please contact CITL’s Instructional Designers and request a consultation.

University of Maine System – University Tools for Remote Work, Teaching & Learning